Getting Sick in Vegas?

You know how it starts…that tingle in your throat, that one nostril that’s suddenly closed, the wanting to stay in bed “just a little bit longer…”.  My son’s teacher said half the kids at school have that awful phlegmy, throaty, horsey cough and their noses are running like racehorses!  We’ve been combatting the cold in my house for the past week, my toddler stayed home from school Friday & Monday (2 extra “well” days just to make sure he was over it) and my little one-year old got it Saturday (although it only lasted for 24 hours, breast-feeding kicked it in twice-the-time).  It also doesn’t help that pollen, ash & mulberry are going off right now.

My husband and I, knock on wood, haven’t gotten sick.  Here’s how we’ve managed to avoid this terrible cold/flu season:

WELLNESS FORMULA: the best, take it immediately when you feel anything, follow the directions.  I also have the highly recommended COLD SNAP although WELLNESS is my preference.

EMERGEN-C IMMUNE + : lives up to its name.  Citrus is my fav, Blueberry Acai is nice but very strong in flavor (Cost-Co just started carrying a 2-pack, 1 Citrus & 1 Blue-Acai for $18.99., crazy good deal).  I can’t take enough of this, throughout the day, in increments of 2.  Never add to a large bottle of water and sip slowly, this stuff only lasts as long as its fizzes are fizzing.  Bad day?  I take 8 packets.  Bottom’s up!

COLLOIDIAL SILVER: a natural antibiotic without the harsh side-effects.  I like the spray, under the tongue, kept in my purse, follow the directions.  This is also great for cold-sores on the mouth, luckily I’ve never had them but my friends swear by this remedy as it works aggressively fast.

GREEN VIBRANCE: what haven’t I said about this green wonder powder?  If it’s not in your daily ritual already, I highly recommend giving it a shot…30 days will change your life. More energy, more focus, no headaches, no more vitamin capsules (it’s got it all: multi, calcium & probiotic) and less cravings for unhealthy food.  Your 3pm sugar/caffeine requirement goes bye-bye.

Not sure if its allergies OR a cold that’s plaguing your family?  Read about my blog post “Allergies or Cold?” for a quick reference.  As they say in the trade, “keep on truckin’, or keep on truckin’ ’til you get sick.”  Well, they may not say that, but if the shoe fits…

Most everything listed is available at your local mom&pop health food store OR Whole Foods and always ask your doctor about taking anything while pregnant or breastfeeding!

How to Explain Death to a Toddler, part I

These past few months have been shrouded in sickness, fatigue, confusion & an overwhelming sense of our priceless presence here on earth.  My step-father (really, father, for all inclusive purposes) had been ailing for sometime and, after his “strong like bull” stance on life, passed on February 20, 2014.

I always said (ie/ visualized, hoped) he would live another 10 years and, even though my step-father was ailing, he always always always bounced back.

His death came as a shock to us all.  Not only was there a death in the family but a death in our home.  Yes, we all lived together.  Yes, we are a modern take on the über Italian+Jewish+Mexican patchwork family.

My husband grew extremely close with my stepfather these past 3 years and my boys, aged 1 & 3, were incredibly tight with their grandfather.  They saw him when they woke up in the morning, when they had their afternoon playtime, when my toddler came home from school, they ate dinner with him, performed for him and said goodnight to him before bed.  Needless to say, he was an integral part of their hearts, their fun and their day-to-day rituals.  Hearing the words “where’s BaBa, where’s BaBa?  mama, where’s BaBa?” from my 3 year-old broke my heart, and I’ve never felt so ill prepared.

…coming soon, How to Explain Death to a Toddler, part II.

My Green Smoothie

I’ve been enjoying smoothies since the 80′s (Ali MacGraw yoga tape, anyone?) as I never enjoyed eating breakfast and my mother had to get nourishment into my growing, adolescent body.  Those days a smoothie consisted of strawberries, banana, yogurt, milk and maybe some raw, local honey followed by Shaklee’s Liqui-Lea (that my mother would buy from the traveling salesman in Leucadia).  My, how things change!  Here’s my current go-to frothy-morning-concoction and my son loves it, too.

VIBRANT HEALTH’S GREEN VIBRANCE: over-all healthy person’s alternative to ALL vitamins.  It has your multi, your calcium, your probiotics, your everything.  1 scoop/day.

VIBRANT HEALTH’S PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDER: we all know protein is best found in its purest form (quinoa, meats) but for us morning risers who don’t want to eat, this is the best way to get your protein without feeling sick afterwards.  30 grams/protein early in the morning is said to promote weight loss, too.  Vanilla is my fav.

TRACE MINERALS: a few drops for absorption

ASCENTA’S NUTRASEA OIL: forget your fish oil & DHA pills, this stuff has it all and is the best.  The DHA is my favorite.  Find yours here.

FLAX OIL with LIGNANS or COCONUT OIL: good fats are a must for healthy body, healthy skin & healthy organs.  Just read about the celebs who use coconut oil here.

BANANA: well-ripened, peeled, organic, frozen

ALMOND MILK: I don’t drink any animal’s milk and this is the best alternative I’ve found for my bod.  Be wary, nothing GMO…ever!

And of course, I always wake up with a glass of CHLOROXYGEN.  It gently breaks my evening fast, oxygenates the blood & builds red blood cells (and also gets things moving).  As I don’t drink caffeine, this is the best energy boost I’ve found short of a Keith Richards at The Pannikin or an Almond Milk latté at our beloved Lofty or Café Leone.  mmmmm….

“ok, baby, take a deep breath”

One of the first things a pediatrician does when your child is sick is take their oxygen level by strapping a reader to their finger.  Usually the nurse says, “Take a deep breath” and your child breathes deeply, demonstrating how well their lungs are working.

Easy enough.  Right?  Not really…not with an 11-month old sick baby.

I was standing there with our baby in the Ergo strapped to me, he was getting a low reading and the nurse kept saying, “breathe deeply, breathe deeply” to no avail.  I began to follow her lead by saying “breathe deeply”, too, to no avail.  Finally I realized, what am I doing?  I have my child strapped to my chest and I’m “telling” him what to do, just “show” him what to do! With that, I took two very deep, slow, calming breaths and within 2 seconds his oxygen levels shot up to the desired level.  It was magic, rather oh-so-natural, even the nurse was impressed.

dawnoftheday babywearing

WORD TO THE WISE:  Baby-wearing is more than a hippie-dippie, convenient, mommy trend.  It’s been around for thousands of years and is proven to:

  • regulate your baby’s breathing
  • regulate your baby’s  heartbeat
  • regulate your baby’s body temperature
  • regulate your baby’s sense of balance
  • improves your baby’s motor development
  • promotes your baby’s growth

I wore my babies as often as possible during their first year and with everything listed above it’s believed to also stave off SIDS.  It’s one of the best ways to promote bonding and wonderful for daddies, too!

Xylitol my Nose!

After using Xclear Xylitol Nasal Wash which I wrote about here, I began to further investigate why it’s making such a HUGE difference in my daily life.  It’s amplified my comfort level enabling me to wake on the most-parched-of-desert-winter-mornings not feeling *hung over* from dryness (you know that feeling if you live in Vegas, even with your humidifier on high all night long & a gallon of water consumed the day before you still can’t shake it?).

Yes, it’s that dry here.

The reason why it works.  XYLITOL vs SALINE SPRAY:  saline spray irrigates the the nose with salt water making the nasal passage wet but ultimately dried out and, of course, a dry nose solicits sickness.  Xylitol is a natural lubricant “with the ability to break up biofilms, the mucus layers in which bacteria hide & proliferate…(these biofilms can be) immune to the body’s natural defenses & even resistant to antibiotics”, according to Dr. Hoffman, a renowned forward thinker of Complementary Medicine.

My kids are also on the Xclear Nasal Spray, their bottles are each labeled with their name. Remember, never share a bottle as this can spread infection and always wipe the nozzle after application.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol naturally occurring in our bodies and in nature.  XCLEAR (I buy mine from Whole Foods or your local mom&pop Health Food Store) is made from NON-GMO corn.  Phew…

Beyond Saline Spray

I never really used saline spray growing up.  We were raised in Encinitas, a small San Diego beach town know for its killer surf, flower fields & near-perfect weather.  My elementary school was on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean (if we could all be so lucky) so, needless to say, I never experienced dryness until I moved to the desert.  Rising in the morning with a blocked nose, inability to breathe well, nasal tenderness and, the worst, bloody noses, are all normal while living in Las Vegas.

Netti Pots are fabulous but my morning routine requires something less ritualistic.  Saline Sprays work well but it takes hours of application in order to feel moisturized.  I finally tried nasal spray with xylitol and I am hooked, I can’t believe how it properly moisturizes the nasal cavity with only a few sprays.  HUGE difference.  This one also comes with grapefruit seed extract, available at Whole Foods and, of course, your local mom&pop’s Health Food Store.  It’s a game changer.

Vintner Grill: GF

My mother and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch today and my favorite item on the menu, the free-range crispy chicken with cavatelli mac&cheese and broccolini has lost its zest since I went gluten-free in October.  This meant I either ordered the chicken with a salad instead or thwarted the meal entirely.  Not today, I am thrilled to report that Vintner Grill carries gluten-free pasta!  I dove right into a gluten-free delight: (gf) spaghetti subbed for the cavatelli, my hinkering for pasta satisfied and my lust for something cheesy satiated.  Healthy?  Somewhat.  Decadent?  Absolutely.  So yummy?  Indeed.  Gluten Free?  You betcha.  Now, if only they can work on a (gf) bread to enjoy with their cracked salt/butter/olive oil/herbed-up intro…  I’ll email Peter now.

Postpartum: Ayurvedic Healing

Seva, our Midwife in Santa Fe, was of the Sikh faith (a very progressive, beautiful and loving religion) and she advised us to stay home the first 40 days of our new baby’s life.  In her world, those 40 days were the time to bond with the baby, to keep quiet, to heal, to nurture and to protect.  Choose your people wisely whom you allow into your home, especially those first 40 days.  This article very elegantly and eloquently delivers her message with insight, intellect & anecdotes.  We practiced the first 40 days, although we are not of the Sikh faith, and our healing was tremendously profound and our bonding very deep.  I recommend it highly!

How to wake up your Toddler for Preschool

It’s a difficult task, pulling your sleepy toddler out of their comfy, cozy bed.  We’ve tried so many different approaches and I’ve listed below what works for us.  We also have a 1 year-old whom I wake at 6:40am to breastfeed and our eldest arrives to school at 8:30 so every minute counts in the morning.  ¡Buenos suerte y Buenos Dias!

OPEN THE CURTAINS (7am, WHILE THEY’RE STILL SLEEPING):  let them know it’s morning, our black-out curtains can be very misleading.

PLAY A SONG or TURN ON PBS KIDS (7am, WHILE THEY’RE STILL SLEEPING):  a pleasant awakening for the toddler without you having to be present in their bedroom, also an opportunity for you to complete your own morning ritual and prepare his breakfast, uniform, etc.

WAKE HIM WITH JUICE (7:30am): a little sugar gets the body going.

DON’T MENTION SCHOOL UNTIL THEY’VE FULLY AWOKEN: you’ll just get a big “noooooo” if they’re half asleep, under the covers and not fully in their bodies yet.  Do you want to hear about work when you’re still half-asleep, under your duvet?

“YOU GET TO GO TO SCHOOL TODAY”: as opposed to the dreaded counterpart, “you HAVE to go to school today”.  Empower your toddler, this is their day at school.

SCHEDULE: always try to keep them on schedule.  I wake up my son everyday (Saturdays & Sundays included) at 7am, without fail.  I open the curtains (halfway), play his toddler songs and let him slumber in bed until 7:30am.  If he hasn’t walked into the kitchen by 7:30, I go in and more aggressively wake him up using the tactics above.

DON’T LINGER: toddlers usually wake-up with one thing on their mind, let’s play!.  Allow them to tinker with the train set, watch a little PBS and give them morning hugs but make sure NOT to linger…or else they’ll think it’s train play time, TV time or cuddle-in-bed-time and you can kiss your timeframe good-bye.

MAKE IT FUN!: last but not least…remember, toddlers respond to excitement so try to harness your jolly morning self and shine like the sun!  Get them excited for school and talk about the fun things they did yesterday (“You get to read about Noah’s Ark!  What happened with the water?  A flood?  What animal did you pick yesterday?”).  Engage them with their own memories.

Our goal is to wake them at 7am, out of bed by 7:30am, fed & dressed by 8am and out-the-door by 8:10-8:15.  More often than not, we succeed with our schedule (most days…).  Good luck, moms & dads.  You can do it!


Road-Tripping with a 1 & 3 year old…

We just made it back from a 5-day road trip, 9 hours there (4 hours stuck in LA traffic, the worst) and 6 hours back (no traffic).  As we’ve been traveling with our first son since he was 1-month old, I’ve written down some wise tips we’ve learned along the way.  Cheers to making road trips smooth, safe, eventful and…painless for all!

SNACKS ARE FUN:  do not underestimate the power of food.  Distraction at its finest.

SING SONGS TOGETHER:  like you did with your parents!  Although, we’ve forgotten many through our decades into adulthood so do some research and print up those sing-alongs for reference in the car.

STARBUCKS:  I have a love/hate relationship with Starbucks.  I prefer the mom&pop cafés and to support local businesses although there is nothing more reliable in a strange land than Starbucks.  You know their product, their bathrooms are usually clean, the space is comfortable enough to sit & enjoy your drink AND their meals are fairly healthy & fresh.  Eat up, rev up…go!

TOY BIN: keep lots of small toys & books for children in a small basket, we place this in-between their carseats on the floor for easy access by the parent in the passenger seat.  Small toys, various sizes & styles, small boxes & containers for them to take toys in&out while in carseat and books do the trick.  Bring current favorites but also sprinkle in forgotten old toys, they suddenly are refurbished and appealing while traveling.

TODDLER MUSIC: turn down the front speakers and let your toddler rock out to their favorite music, you & your partner will be able to talk without audio distraction.  Classical if you want them to sleep.

BE PREPARED, KNOW YOUR PIT-STOPS: there is nothing worse than driving down the highway with hysterical babes crying to “get out” and no clue where to stop.  We’ve made the mistake of pulling off into a barren wasteland in Flagstaff, another highway to oblivion in New Mexico, suburbia with no public restrooms/markets outside of Riverside and, worse, no freeway exit for miles (the Mojave Desert).  Be prepared along your journey with pit-stops and points of (toddler) interest along the way.  I keep a journal in our car (or old receipts with addresses), especially for stops from Vegas to San Diego:

  • LENWOOD AVE (in Barstow), think “Lenny & Squiggy” and not to be confused with ‘L STREET’ in Barstow.  2 Starbucks, 1 In-n-Out, endless gas stations, need I say more?
  • LIMONITE AVE (after Barstow, before Riverside): go west off the freeway and take your first right into a movie theater complex, to the east of the theater there’s a PINKBERRY (the Holy Grail of fro-yo) and a fountain, I repeat, a flowing, large, gorgeous fountain for the kids.  Perfection.
  • MAJALCO (after LIMONITE): go east off the freeway and take your first left into a large shopping mall, take another left and you’ll find a Starbucks on your left.  Very large Starbucks with great bathrooms and, again, a fountain (rather, HUGE fountain) with lots of outdoor seating.  Take a breath of fresh air here, cool down, energy up.

RESERVE A SEAT NEXT-TO OR IN-BETWEEN CAR SEATS FOR YOU: nothing like mommy’s gaze, mommy’s voice, mommy’s soothing caress when a little TLC is needed.  They usually lull to sleep when you’re with them.

REST-STOPS ARE YOUR FRIEND: you would be amazed at the nice, clean, well-attended & well-lit rest-stops now available along the highway.  Golden rule, never use the restroom by yourself (if you use the restroom by yourself or bring your child, make sure your partner stays outside the bathroom door waiting for you and always stay within voice range).  Stretch your legs, relieve your bladder, enjoy your hand-packed lunch & let the kids “get the sillies out”!

DON’T TRAVEL AFTER DARK:  this just totally freaks out the kids, especially transitioning from day to night while driving unless they’ve had a day filled with exercise (ie/ Disneyland) to ensure sleep while driving.

TRAVEL ON “OFF” DAYS, PRO & CON: pro: you will glide down a nearly-vacant highway.  con: all the creepie-jeepies are out.  For instance, last Tuesday we stopped at a gas station and there was a man simulating sex while doing push-ups (grunting and all).  Totally. Awful.

ALLOW 2 DAYS BETWEEN TRAVEL:  this will allow a buffer for your children to re-acclimate before they sit in their carseat for an extended period of time.

UPSIDE DOWN:  we visited an Osteopath in Santa Fe when my first son was a newborn, he was wound so tight from his 48hr labor & forceps birth the professional had to “unwind” him, meaning turn him upside down to realign his spine & release trapped energy.  Seek an Osteopath to teach you how to unwind your baby, it does the trick every time.

+30% TRAVEL TIME: children require more pit-stops, more food, more eye-to-eye, skin-to-skin contact so when we travel, in order to keep our sanity, we accept travel time will usually be about 30% longer than usual.  ie/ a 6 hour trip to San Diego usually turns into +8hours, a 10 hour trip to Santa Fe turns into 14 hours, and so on.  Accept this and you’ll be able to plan more effectively while keeping your expectations rational.

WHITE NOISE: our little lamb travels with us everywhere we go, we use him daily at home and in the car the boys feel safe, familiar & (usually) lulled to sleep by the whales/ocean/rain.

BREAST-FEED WHILE TRAVELING:  Both of my boys were/are breastfed and, if you have the flexibility/body type to lean in and give him the breast to feed while mama & baby are safely strapped in your seats (and discreetly covered by a swaddle!)….do it.  Babies usually cry right before falling asleep on a road trip and if they get hysterical, the breast calms them down almost immediately.

IPOD/IPAD/DVD/WHATEVER ELECTRONIC DEVICE YOU HAVE:  we try to sooth our kids without the use of electronic distraction but, when desperate, we use them.  Keep them charged.  Keep them clean.  Keep them ready.

In the words of the great Clark Griswold, “Everything isn’t like home. If everything were like home, there would be no reason for leaving home.”.  Bring the spoon for the lemonade, untie the dog and let’s go to Wally World!